Too Busy For Words - the PaulWay Blog

Sun 5th Nov, 2006

Familiarity breeds contempt

Now that I've had the laptop for a bit over a week, I'm starting to find all the niggling little problems. Nothing disturbing, nothing worth enquiring to the manufacturer about, but things that need tracking down in all that free time that I don't seem to have.

I think there are problems with the Intel Pro-Wireless 3945 driver, or at least FreshRPMs' packaging of them. Occasionally I get 'Microcode SW errors' detected in /var/log/messages ("Can't stop Rx DMA" seems to be the popular one) that indicate that the wireless is going to fail. This usually presages the machine freezing for a second or so, and then after it's irritated me with this for a while it'll just hard crash and I'll have to power it off. I've had occasional luck with turning the machine off, leaving it a while to cool down, and turning it back on again. But not always, now being one of those times.

I also need to investigate more thoroughly how to get CPU frequency scaling working. I have a feeling that I'm driving the Centrino at top speed all the time in Linux, which while it gives me a lovely sense of power, means that the overheating problem above (if it is such) is worsened.

After finally getting MythFrontend working and connecting to the back end, it's worked some black magic in the sound settings that means that no audio comes out at all. I've turned up and unmuted every control that the GNOME volume manager can lay its hands on, to no avail. I'll have to see if this is a long-term problem - maybe it's just caused by having plugged my headphones in and confused it somehow.

DMA is apparently not enabled on either the hard drive or the DVD writer. Trying to turn it on gives an 'Operation not supported' on both - the former because it's a SATA device, the latter because... I don't know why. It makes DVD playback in Xine slightly skippy.

The Amazing Everything Card Reader in the side has manifestly failed to work. I get a bit annoyed at the proliferation of physically incompatible memory cards out there and at the complete lack of an obvious 'correct' insertion direction. I can figure that the contacts go in first, and the label probably goes up. But there's certainly nothing registered in the kernel messages whichever way I insert the thing.

I've worked out now that it won't go into standby mode when you shut the lid if you have the power connected. This confused me at first.

The few odd little crashes that seemed to accompany leaving it on and connected for any length of time have now apparently gone away, though. It's too short a baseline to tell.

Overall, it's still a wonderful thing. The AIGLX/Compiz Window Effects and the general smoothness and speed of the thing have been great. Surfing the net from the couch is starting to become very attractive. Typing while in bed likewise. I'm just trying to note down what has soured the experience slightly so that, if nothing else, I can read it later and remember the data points...

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